There used to be a golden age in search engine marketing when you were able to rank a website on SERPs within a few weeks or even days. This was in the early days of search, when Yahoo, Google were still in infancy.
But today, ranking for keywords is not easy. You can spend tons of time, money, and effort, and even then, not guarantee a first-page ranking, let alone about top ranking. So why is that? Why is SEO taking so much time to rank, that too under uncertainty. This article explains the main reasons.
The apparent difference between the internet of yesterday and the internet of today is that there is more number of websites. If we look at the data from Internetlivestats, then you’d realize the difference. In 2000, there use to be 17,087,182 websites as per its database. But in 2018, that number stood at 1,630,322,579. So that’s almost a 100X increase.
All of these websites are vying for the same organic search space that Google has to offer. The real estate stayed the same, while the number of tenants increased. This is the main reason why SEO is taking longer to rank.
This competition is evident in all sectors. But it’s cutthroat in sectors like insurance, law, finance, mortgage, and professional services. As a rule of thumb, the more competition there is, the more time it’ll take to rank the website. But the ranking also depends on the SEO professional or agency who is working on your website.
On average, the time frame for a high SERP position is between 3-4 months. So you should use it as a benchmark.
When evaluating the authority and importance, Google takes into account the number of links pointing to that website. In fact, this was the idea that helped start Google and become the technology conglomerate we know today. Larry Page, the founder of Google, patented the concept as PageRank in 1999.
In the early days of the internet, it was really easy to get these backlinks. You can visit a few directories and forums and submit a link pointing back to your website. Within a day or two, you’d have created dozens of backlinks. This could potentially propel any website to the top.
But Google doesn’t work like that anymore. Furthermore, it doesn’t give the same status to every backlink. So links placed in forums and low authority websites do not have much value, while those placed in authority websites have a higher value.
And generating links from a high authority website is like a mountain to climb. So that’s another reason why ranking websites has become difficult.
The role of content in SEO is immense. After all, that’s what people are looking for when they perform a search.
Previously, a 250-word article written with little to no research would do well on search. By stuffing keywords in heading, subheading, and throughout the content, it was easy to rank within the top 3 results.
But over time, Google became smarter to go beyond keywords and look at the content itself. After the Google Panda algorithm update, it cracked down on content farms and websites that had poorly-written content.
To rank in 2021, you'd have to do a better job when it comes to content. Professional, highly-researched, long, and readable content is what Google prefers. So you have to spend some time researching and reviewing the topic before you write. Not every website owner is willing to devote time to it, which is why they don't see faster results in SEO.
SEO gurus recommend to have 4,000-word articles on your website and publish content regularly. This will keep your website fresh and relevant, which is another factor Google looks at for ranking.
Google handles about 3.5 billion searches per day. So there's a lot of scope for ranking, you'd think. But that's a mistake. You cannot (and shouldn't) rank for every keyword. You need to select the relevant keywords, the process of which is called Keyword Researching.
The keyword research phase is vital and daunting at the same time. To succeed in SEO, you must get the keyword selection right. And if the ranking time frame is your concern, you need to be more selective. Ideally, you'd look for keywords that have little to no competition.
As an example, "best shoes" is a hyper-competitive keyword. Such big retailers like Amazon, BestBuy can easily outrank you. So you have to select niche keywords like "best green-colored shoes in Arlington" if you're a local shoe store in Arlington.
If you get the keyword selection wrong, then it’ll take longer for you to rank for those keywords.
In 2021, the ranking isn’t the same anymore when compared to rankings in, say, the 2000s. This is primarily because the rankings aren’t accurate anymore. Many industry leaders have stated this publicly and said that you shouldn’t focus all of your marketing efforts solely on rankings.
This because of multiple factors like personalization, location, device, and the age of AI. Google tweaks the rankings every second. So it can have one result at the top now and a different one a few moments later. This is because it tests to see which results are best suited for the searchers.
The search engine giant also tweaks the rankings based on the location you’re searching from. So someone in Texas will see a different result than someone in California for the same keyword search.
So, instead of focusing only on ranking, you should focus on an overall marketing strategy that includes Adwords and social media.
As Google evolves further as a search engine, the rankings will only get tougher. Therefore, you must use the latest SEO techniques to get faster results.
A mobile-optimized website, quality content, and authoritative backlinks are the foundation for SEO ranking, and they aren't going to change anytime soon. So it's worth investing in them to rank higher in SERPs.